Giving at Samuel Merritt University

Your gift today prepares the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.

100% of your gift directly benefits SMU students. Take action today through giving to scholarships and key University priorities, and you will be supporting health equity and the mission of SMU.

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Your Support is Essential

Thanks to our dedicated donors, last year, SMU was able to support 370+ individual students with donor-provided scholarships totaling more than $1.5+ million. This aid is critical in helping diverse students become our future healthcare leaders. Click here to read more about donor impact.

With your support, we can make an even bigger impact for students and healthcare in our communities. 

2023 facts



I Want to Help. What Are My Options?

There are many ways to support SMU, below are some common options. Our team is here to help work with you individually to find the right fit for you and your family. Contact us at or 510.907.2500

Join Here with a gift to the area of your choosing

President’s Circle

Donors who make an annual gift of $1500 or more to Samuel Merritt University are invited to join the President’s Circle. Members of the President’s Circle receive:

  • Presidential event invitations and networking opportunities
  • Meet and greet events with University leaders and students
  • Elevated stewardship "thank you" messaging and gifts
  • Giving impact reporting
  • Recognition throughout the year
Nursing Dean’s Circle

Donors who make an annual gift of $500 or more to the College of Nursing are invited to join the Dean’s Circle. Members of the Dean’s Circle receive:

  • Special event invitations
  • Meet and greet events with University leaders and students
  • Exclusive SMU and College of Nursing swag
  • Giving impact reporting
  • Recognition throughout the year
Podiatry Dean’s Circle

Donors who make an annual gift of $500 or more to the College of Podiatric Medicine are invited to join the Dean’s Circle. Members of the Dean’s Circle receive:

  • Special event invitations
  • Meet and greet events with University leaders and students
  • Continued Medical Education (CME) events like the spring "Pacific Coast Foot and Ankle Dermatology Symposium"
    • See the SMU Events webpage for all upcoming alumni events - just select "Alumni" in the events topic dropdown menu
  • Exclusive SMU and CPM swag
  • Giving impact reporting
  • Recognition throughout the year
Health Sciences Dean’s Circle

Donors who make an annual gift of $500 or more to the College of Health Sciences (Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant) are invited to join the Dean’s Circle. Members of the Dean’s Circle receive:

  • Special event invitations
  • Meet and greet events with University leaders and students
  • Exclusive SMU and College of Health Sciences swag
  • Giving impact reporting
  • Recognition throughout the year

There are multiple ways for a donor to create a new scholarship in their own name, the name of a loved one (Tribute Giving), or in recognition of their Class/Cohort. Staff at the University work with donors to ensure each scholarship is managed appropriately per donor wishes and ensure student impact is clearly shared after scholarships have been received.

  • Current Use Scholarships can be started with a minimum donation of $1,500, and the full value of the donated funds will be awarded that year.
  • Endowed Scholarships can be started with a minimum donation of $25,000. These dollars are invested by the University to grow over time, living on and benefiting students for decades to come.
    • Most endowment gifts bear the name of the donor or family and are restricted for scholarships. However, a donor may also endow a Faculty Chair in one of the programs offered at SMU.
    • The funds provide ongoing income for the purpose designated by the donor.
    • Endowment gifts are an especially rewarding way of giving.

Whether your goal is to memorialize a loved one or to recognize your Class/Cohort, Tribute Giving at every level is a unique way to celebrate each other through philanthropy. University staff will work with you to identify how to maximize your impact by facilitating a one-time gift, establishing a recurring gift plan, or building a crowdfunding campaign to share with a larger audience. 

Memorial and honorary gifts have been an important part of the history and tradition of SMU. From gifts such as the Hall Nursing Award, given in 1971 to recognize the fine nursing care at Merritt Hospital, and named in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Chaffee E. Hall, to every heartfelt memorial gift made by one person in the name of another, you can to honor or memorialize your family and friends.

Each year the University participates in two virtual Giving Day events - Give SMU Days and Giving Tuesday. Mark your calendars to come together in giving in 2024 -  

  • Give SMU Days in Spring (May 14-15th, 2024)
    • SMU's flagship fundraiser of the year with a focus on building SMU pride and raising scholarship donations for individual programs.
    • Includes double your donation  matching gift opportunities, fun giving challenges and thank you gifts, and real testimonial videos and stories from students and donors.
  • Giving Tuesday in Fall (December 3rd, 2024)
    • This is an internationally recognized day that focuses on the spirit of thankfulness and giving back to help others.
    • The needs we will be highlighting include various scholarships, the student emergency fund, and the student pantry.

Our team is eager to empower SMU students in their fundraising efforts. All fundraiser requests at the University must be directed through University Advancement for approval. Resources and support are available to maximize your outreach efforts while ensuring donor stewardship and accounting are appropriately managed. See this example of a recent successful student fundraiser. Unlike outside fundraising platforms, all crowdfunding campaigns managed through University Advancement benefit students 100% by charging zero gift processing fees. 

Please contact us to learn more. 

See current Crowdfunding campaigns here

Matching Gifts: Did you know that thousands of companies match donations by employees to our organization? Please use our search tool here to see if your company will match your donation.


Stock/Security Giving: Donors may avoid capital gains tax on appreciated securities by donating to the University. Please contact us for more details.

SMU Perspectives

Family 2022
“Prior to this scholarship, I feared my childcare expenses would prevent me from achieving my dream of becoming a nurse. This money is going to help me continue being the dedicated, loving mother my child deserves, as well as become the skilled, knowledgeable, caring nurse that my future patients deserve.”
- BSN ’23 Student and Scholarship Recipient A loving mother and nurse
Food pantry
“I am the first in my family to attend a master’s/doctorate program. I feel very grateful and blessed to be where I am today. I would like to be an advocate for occupational therapy and help the people in my community by spreading awareness and education. Your contribution will go a long way as you are helping me succeed. Thank you, and I hope you continue to have good fortune and a good life, because you are impacting peoples’ lives by helping contribute to their present and future.”
- OT ’25 Student and Scholarship Recipient A future community helper
Podiatry group at Highland
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to be extended this scholarship, which comes at a time of need. I wasn’t lucky enough to have my expenses covered with the loans I was approved for and needed financial assistance. I aspire to open my private office and integrate everything I learn to help my patients. Without scholarship support, I would be barely keeping my head above water in financial turmoil.”
- DPM ’24 Student and Scholarship Recipient A soon-to-be entrepreneur
Students pose in front of Oakland campus mural.

Immediate Impact Giving


56% of students are disadvantaged because of finances, past educational resources, or their environments. Your gift empowers students to overcome the odds and continue to excel. Despite facing disadvantages, SMU students achieved a 93-95% average graduation rate for the past three years. Donor support makes all the difference.

Top Areas of Need

  • Greatest Need Fund: where students and the University need support to improve and expand the academic experience
  • Scholarships: supporting students to become healthcare leaders with much-needed financial relief  
  • Student Emergency Fund: supporting students through hardships like hospitalized parents or job loss
  • Student Food Pantry: providing free food reduces stress and economic hardship. In 2021, our Food Pantry served an average of 113 people per month, including students and their children
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Planned & Estate Gifts

Planned giving offers donors the opportunity to make a gift to the University in concert with their personal long-term financial and estate planning. Bequests enable donors to leave a lasting legacy when remembering SMU in their will or trust. Charitable Remainder Trusts help donors avoid capital gains taxes on appreciated property, increase income, and reduce income taxes. Donors may also leave a legacy by naming SMU in their life insurance policy, 401(k), IRA, or retirement plan.

Explore Free Resources

Giving News

Emily Prieto-Tseregounis

Chief of Staff and VP of External Affairs and VP of Advancement & Communication (interim)

Monica Uriarte, MPA

Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations

Veronica Suazo

Executive Assistant to the President & Vice President of Advancement and Communications